Giving birth for an audience, cow-poo as a pain reliever and a 30-day visitor ban. Child birth practices have always been controversial
Do you realise how lucky we are to be giving birth today? We’re surrounded by love, support, the latest medical knowledge, clean sheets and plenty of time to bond with our new babies. It wasn’t always like this.
How did women endure some of these ancient birthing practices (although there are a couple we secretly quite fancy!)
1. Multiple strangers watching you ‘perform’
For hundreds of years, royal women were forced to give birth in front of the court, often an audience of up to 70 people. This was more true of royal births in Europe when a potential heir to the throne was being born. It would really restrict your choice of language during contractions.
Puritan women were also expected to give birth with a crowd of up to 10 women including her mother-in-law and a handful of neighbours.
This probably makes a bit of sense. These days we're propped up in those short beds that give doctors access to the baby emerging from our birth canal. Ancient Greeks used chairs instead. They had armrests she could grab onto, which saved her having to leave finger nail marks on her partners arms.
The strangest part of this practice was when they decided to cut a hole in the chair for the baby to fall through. Can anyone say catch?
3. Off with that hair!
Look, these days lots of women get a pre-baby wax, but 1950s Britain, there was no choice in the matter. Pubic hair was usually always shaved ahead of childbirth just in case the baby got lost down there. They also often had enemas which still occur today. The English were big on this. They expected childbirth to be neat and tidy.
4. Women were heavily drugged
In the 1914s, women were drugged to provide pain relief but also to remove the memory of the birth, it was called the 'Twilight Sleep'. The practice lead to a struggle for women who were trying to remain conscious when time came to push so was quickly discontinued. Anyone who has watched Mad Men will remember Betty Draper's 'twilight' birth. Those hallucinations were pretty wild.